New legislation was recently introduced that will address several issues facing San Joaquin Valley Canals. The Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein as a means for repainting water conveyance damaged by subsidence. The bill would authorize a total of $800 million to be used for the repair of three canals, as well as a habitat restoration project.
“We have to find better ways to use the water we have,” Feinstein said in a press release. “Restoring the San Joaquin Valley’s canals is one of the most efficient ways to improve the sustainability of California’s water supply. It would allow us to capture more winter storm floodwaters and use that extra water to offset necessary reductions in groundwater pumping. This bill would give our farmers a fighting chance.”
Each of the four projects would receive $200 million in funding support. Repairs and improvements would be made on the Friant-Kern Canal, the California Aqueduct, and the Delta Mendota Canal. The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement would also receive funding support to help restore salmon populations. An average of 367,000 acre-feet of additional water would be moved annually if the legislation were to be implemented and the prescribed repairs were made. The San Joaquin Valley canals are currently only operating at 60 percent capacity.
“This bill assists with one of the most critical and desperate needs to achieve long-term sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley,” Executive Director of the Friant Water Authority, Jason Phillips said in a news release. “The bill also makes significant investments in implementing the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement, in acknowledgment of the shared future between the Friant Division contractors and the San Joaquin River.”
Failure to address the water conveyance issues these canals are facing could result in a loss of up to one million acres of productive farmland. Supporting water infrastructure and maximizing the value and efficiency of water supplies will become even more important as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act continues to take shape. Legislation similar to the Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act has been introduced in the House by Representatives Jim Costa and TJ Cox.